Almost every parent tells their kids to share and share alike. Generally they are referring to toys other items of interest. In my house we were taught to always share with each other and others in need.
I remember making an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my lunch in 6th grade because a classmate often went without lunch because his family was poor. My teacher privately thanked me for my generosity and thoughtfulness.
It seems if I was to do that today, instead of being acknowledged for thinking of others I would likely end up being punished, like 13 year old Kyle Bradford of Weaverville Elementary School in northern California.
Kyle had a chicken burrito that he got in the school lunch line, but since he wasn’t that hungry he was only going to throw it away. Another student didn’t like the cheese sandwich he got in the lunch line, so following what he was taught at home, Kyle gave his burrito to his friend. His act of kindness and compassion was rewarded with after school detention.
Kyle told the local media:
“It seemed like he couldn’t get one, a normal lunch, so I just wanted to give mine to him because I really wasn’t that hungry. It was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it.”
The school sent a note home to Kyle’s parents, informing them about Kyle’s detention. His mother, Sandy Bradford, was shocked and outraged at the way the school handled the situation. She told the local media:
“I felt very angry because he was doing the right thing and he was being kind and considerate and he was punished for it.”
“By all means the school can teach them math and the arithmetic and physical education, but when it comes to morals and manners and compassion, I believe it needs to start at home with the parent.”
The Trinity Alps Unified School District said that they have a no sharing policy because of hygiene and safety. They say that one student may have a food allergy that the other student doesn’t know about which could create life threatening situation. While that may be true, don’t you think an eighth grade kid would know about his/her food allergies and refuse to take something that would be harmful to them? I know a family with younger kids who have food allergies and they’ve been taught not to eat those foods and to refuse to take it if offered by someone else.
When the media asked Kyle, he said he would share his lunch again if a friend asked him to. His mom says that’s what he’s been taught at home.
If sharing lunches at school is so dangerous, then how did so many of us ever survive into adulthood? We shared swapped lunches, we played with toy guns, we rode our bikes without helmets and knee pads and dozens of other kid things that are now declared to be too dangerous. Yes, we got scraped up knees and elbows, but that was all part of growing up. If anything it helped toughen us up for what life was to throw at us later.
America has become such a lawsuit happy nation that kids are no longer allowed to be kids. They’re not allowed to play cops and robbers because they use imaginary guns. They’re not allowed to go fishing or hunting directly from school because of their knives, guns or bows. (Just a note, when I went to high school in Arizona, over half of the pickup trucks on campus had a gun in the gun rack mounted in the cab, especially the day before deer season started.) Now kids are not allowed to be kind and compassionate to one another because it’s too dangerous.
This is why I believe that every person working in the educational field be required to take a course in common sense, manners and general courtesy. They expect these things from their students, but they don’t allow them to practice it half the time. As for Kyle Bradford, I commend him for not being wasteful and helping a friend and would encourage him to do it again as he said he would.